WAWG ambassador program involves next generation
By MATTHEW WEAVER
A new Washington Association of Wheat Growers effort is helping two Lincoln County high school students become involved in the industry.
The Washington Association of Wheat Growers recently named JD Rosman and Charlene Gray as ambassadors.
Rosman, 17, is from Creston, Wash., and is a senior at Wilbur High School.
Gray, 18, is a senior at Reardan High School.
Rosman receives $2,500 and Gray receives $1,000 as an alternate. They are expected to be ambassadors primarily through June, but will be available through the summer into November.
Kara Rowe, director of outreach, said the organization has been looking for a way to get more young people involved.
The ambassadors will head to Olympia with WAWG members in February to learn about policy, legislation and the topics affecting the wheat industry.
"Really it's a scholarship and leadership program," Rowe said. "We wanted to actually give these kids some tools they might find useful in the future."
The ambassadors will give presentations in their hometowns and schools, getting out into their communities, Rowe said.
"Day to day, somebody who knows them might ask what's going on in the wheat industry, and now they have the tools to respond to that," she said.
Rosman hopes to convey the importance of agriculture to the public.
"We feed the world and I think a lot of people take it for granted," he said, citing an example often offered by his parents. "When the economy's good, there's a lot of little problems. But when the economy's bad, the one issue is, can I feed my family?"
Gray said she believes the program is a great opportunity.
"People need to know where their food comes from," she said.
Both ambassadors' parents are wheat farmers. For a student to be eligible, their parents must be WAWG members. A panel judged the applicants anonymously, Rowe said.
Rosman plans to attend Oklahoma State University, majoring in agriculture communications and minoring in animal sciences. He hopes to become an agricultural journalist and return to the farm after 10 years or so. He has a herd of registered Angus cattle.
"I've grown up in agriculture," he said, noting that his father, uncle and grandfather all farm. "It's something I love. I enjoy it, so I want to keep coming home and keep the farm going."
Gray plans to attend Eastern Washington University. She hasn't decided what her career plans are, but said she definitely has an interest in pursuing agriculture.